Deadline today for Jan. 1 coverage through Insurance Marketplace

Columbus residents who want to begin new insurance coverage through the national Health Insurance Marketplace on Jan. 1 must sign up online by the end of the day.

The open enrollment period for federal health insurance plans began Nov. 1. Individuals who do not receive coverage through an employer are required by the Affordable Care Act to select a plan through the national marketplace.

By Dec. 5, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reported that 47,272 people in Indiana signed up for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, part of 2.8 million people nationwide who had done so. Hoosiers can choose from eight health insurance providers and a total of 61 plans.

According to the federal agency, 64 percent of Indiana enrollees can find insurance plans for $75 or less per month in premiums after tax credits.

While the open enrollment period runs through Jan. 31 for individuals who do not want their coverage to begin until spring, the deadline for coverage to begin on Jan. 1 is today.

The 2016 fee for individuals who do not buy a health insurance plan and do not quality for an exemption is at least $695 — the national average premium on the Marketplace’s Bronze plan — or 2.5 percent of a household’s income, whichever is higher.

The fee will increase every month that health insurance is not purchased.

The downtown Columbus WellConnect center offers appointments with trained health insurance navigators to assist residents who have questions about the open enrollment process, said Joy Perry, WellConnect program coordinator.

“These people have been trained in the program and understand the ins and outs so that the layperson can have some clarity,” Perry said.

Additional open enrollment deadlines include:

  • Jan. 15 — last day to enroll for new coverage to begin on Feb. 1
  • Jan. 31 — open enrollment ends, and coverage begins March 1

A complete list of health insurance plans and providers, as well as information about financial assistance and exemptions, is available online at HealthCare.gov.

Where to get help, information

Individuals who need help enrolling in a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace can send an email to LocalHelp@HealthCare.gov to find assistance near them, or call the call center at 1-800-318-2596. Call center representatives are available 24 hours a day.

Appointments with a trained health insurance navigator are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at WellConnect, 237 Washington St., Columbus. To make an appointment, call 812-343-9840.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.